Female-led start-ups are in the minority in the UK, with just over one third (37%) of new businesses being launched by women, according to Alone, Together – Entrepreneurship and diversity in the UK, a report by the British Business Bank.
A further report – UK VC & Female Founders – found that a lack of access to support and funding has resulted in a skewed market, with all-female founder teams getting less than 1p of every £1 of venture capital (VC) investment in the UK, compared to all-male founder teams getting 89p, and mixed-gender teams getting the remaining 10p.
Alarmingly, the situation is shockingly slow to improve. Just over 4% of venture capital was awarded to all-female teams in 2017, up from just under 3% in 2007. The research suggests that if progress continues at the same rate, all female-led start-ups gaining VC investment would increase to 10% of all deals by 2045.
Discover the personal aspects involved in starting a new business with our free Entrepreneurial behaviour course. As part of our Learn with Start Up Loans partnership with the Open University, this online course is free to join, delivered by experts and includes a free statement of participation on completion.
Support and funding for female entrepreneurs
Fortunately, female-led business needs are leading to a sea change. Recent years have seen a surge in support, networking and advocacy designed to help women get their business ideas off the ground. This has resulted in a wider range of funding options that are tailored to female-led start-ups.
If you’re looking to launch your business idea, it makes sense to network with other female entrepreneurs and get support in overcoming hurdles in helping your business take flight.
Below is a list of some female-centric networks and support organisations that may help your business take the next step.
Female entrepreneur support organisations
Founded in 2018, AllBright is an inclusive community connecting women that now spans more than ten countries. It provides access to over 150 courses to help boost your skills and over 100 networking events. Digital membership starts from less than £10 per month, which provides access to learning courses and industry advice.
Aimed at female-led technology businesses and start-ups, AccelerateHER has a global mission to rebalance gender across the technology sector. Free events provide access to inspirational female leaders, with previous speakers including Hilary Clinton, Arianna Huffington and Jameela Jamil.
Business Woman’s Network
The Business Woman’s Network connects female business owners at events across the UK to grow business and find new customers. There’s no membership fee, and while events do need to be paid for, there are concessions if you’ve been made redundant or impacted by Covid-19.
British Association of Women Entrepreneurs (BAWE)
A not-for-profit network of female directors and founders and is the only women entrepreneurs network specially for women with capital at risk. It has been supporting women in business for over 50 years. Members get access to BAWE events and the FCEM World Congress of Women Entrepreneurs – a global marketplace for your products and services.
Personal development and access to advice is a critical part of starting and running a business. Founded in 1999, Everywoman provides access to webinars, workbooks, training and the Everywoman Awards that showcase female business excellence. Membership starts from less than £8 per month.
Female Entrepreneur Association
Aiming to help women build successful businesses, the Female Entrepreneur Association has over 650,000 members across more than 67 countries and represent over 500 industries. Membership gives access to a global online community of female founders, courses, and business development training.
Female Founders Forum
Set up by Barclays and The Entrepreneurs Network, this UK organisation aims to connect inspirational female entrepreneurs with those on the cusp of growing quickly. It runs a series of nationwide events, and members include the likes of Starling Bank’s founder and CEO Anne Boden.
Invest in Women Hub
Supporting the government’s aim of increasing the number of female entrepreneurs by 600,000 by 2030, the Invest in Women Hub provides help and guidance on setting up a business, accessing finance, maintaining a work/life balance, and finding support and networking. It is run by the Council for Investing in Female Entrepreneurs and is supported by Start Up Loans, which has approved over 32,000 loans to female founders.
From inspiration and learning to support and funding, Prowess is an online hub for women-friendly business support. Free to use, it provides advice articles, directories of local women’s business networks and information about finding and arranging funding. It was formerly known as the National Association for the Promotion of Women’s Enterprise, a non-profit that supported over 100,000 female business owners.
The Can Did network is a membership organisation that connects female business owners across the UK and offers monthly virtual networking events. It aims to encourage constructive, supportive feedback between members for business ideas and growth. Membership costs from £18 per month and includes access to money-saving benefits and offers.
She Means Business
She Means Business is a Facebook community developed by Enterprise Nation to support women across the UK and Ireland in growing their business. Joining allows access to virtual training events, live Q&As and the ability to connect with business advisers who specialise in a range of start-up expertise.
Women in Business Network
Launched in 2005, WIBN is a UK-wide network of local groups that hold monthly meetings and events for networking and gaining new business opportunities. It has over 1,500 members and a range of businesses – from sole traders to corporates – and has a policy of one profession per group to ensure each member receives diverse and targeted support.
Women Mean Biz
Billed as a serious and empowered women’s network that is designed to deliver business results, members are drawn from start-ups, established companies and large corporations. Groups meet monthly to share and swap ideas, develop contacts and partnerships, and support each other to grow their own business.
Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with the Open University on being an entrepreneur. Our free Learn with Start Up Loans courses include:
- Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality
- First steps in innovation and entrepreneurship
- Entrepreneurial behaviour
Plus free courses on finance and accounting, project management, management and leadership.
Disclaimer: While we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.